What is job security – really?

If you pay a visit to Crystal glass in Cochrane to get your windshield fixed or a window replaced, chances are you’ll meet Amanda. Amanda is one of the most positive, helpful, and enthused people you’ll ever meet. She’s always smiling, always ready to be of service.

For a long time I thought she owned the shop, until I found out she was employed as a customer service professional.

“How do you stay so positive, especially when you are dealing so often with demanding, negative customers?” I asked her.
“My grandma. She inspired me to always smile.” Amanda replied and then she showed me the tattoo on her arm.

“Just before Grandma died, I had this tattooed on my arm. In part to honor her, in part to remember her, and in part to keep being inspired by her.”

“You know you could have a job in a lot of places with your attitude,” I told her.

“I know,” she said. She then opened her desk drawer and pulled out a stack of business cards two inches thick. “These are all the people who have offered me a job since I started working here.”

Amanda reminds us all that job security is an inside job. It doesn’t come from your employer. Job security comes from your employability. If you bring value and the right attitude to the marketplace, the marketplace will reward you in return.

While the best leaders will do their best to make the workplace safe and secure, there is ultimately no true security in the world.

Security is determined by your philosophy, not by the economy.

The difference between intuition and assumptions.

A good friend called the other day and asked if I could explain the difference between intuition and assumptions.

I’d never thought of making that distinction before, and nothing intuitively came to me. However, I think that a summary of our conversation is worth sharing.

Here’s what we came up with:

Assumptions and intuitions may look similar because they are an impulsive response to an external stimuli. However, they are very different.

Assumptions come from your head. They may originate from an emotional place, but they are essentially an opinion.
Intuition, on the other hand, comes from the heart. It bypasses the reasoning mind. It originates from a deeper, authentic internal place beneath thinking or emotion.

Assumptions are judgements, and as such, they are arguable. Intuition originates from a hidden, deep-seated truth from within and therefore is inarguable.

Intuition can surface, usually unexpectedly, from a “pit in my stomach” feeling in the midst of a difficult decision when I temporarily suspend conscious thought. It can happen in a “light bulb” moment where I suddenly understand something or get a good idea out of seemingly nowhere. It can appear when I’m reading non-verbal communication cues to understand what people are saying “between the lines.”

Intuition requires some self-awareness. When we’re in emotional turmoil, intuition generally isn’t very reliable. To attend to this deeper voice from within takes effort to distinguish it from an impulsive thought, opinion, or feeling. It requires some concentration, consideration, and mindfulness.

Assumptions, we decided, are a lazy person’s form of intuition.

Why is it so difficult to apologize for a mistake and why is it important to leadership?

  1. False pride. We like to appear competent. A part of us may think it’s a weakness to show imperfection. We hate to be wrong when our identity and work are based on being right. Apologizing risks falling from the artificial pedestal.
  2. A lack of self-awareness. Sometimes we don’t even know an apology is required because we are unaware that our actions were hurtful. What’s common to one might be harmful to another.
  3. Rationalization. A close cousin to pride, rationalization is about avoiding reality. Justifying that your actions “weren’t that bad,” means you can avoid the hard work of changing your behavior. Without a commitment to change, it’s not an apology, it’s a regret. Perhaps you have a habit of hurting people and know it, but you’re embarrassed about it. And you are afraid or unwilling to actually change.
  4. You don’t know how. We often avoid apologizing because we are not sure of the best way to approach the situation. It takes skill to make an apology and admit being wrong. Sincerity and a commitment to change are ultimately what’s required.

Apologizing is critical to leadership for four reasons:

  1. Leaders are always failing somebody. While you’ll never please everybody, if you aren’t willing to apologize, people won’t connect to your humanness and won’t trust you.
  2. False pride never inspired anyone. Being unwilling to acknowledge your mistakes keeps you in the ivory tower of your superiority. Leadership is about working with people, not above them.
  3. Leaders require self-awareness. If we don’t see our blind spots, we can’t grow. And if we aren’t learning and growing, we can’t expect those around us to feel safe enough to engage fully and bring their whole self to what they do.
  4. People feel valued and respected when you apologize to them.

Learning to connect when you’re a lone wolf

Being somewhat of a lone wolf, I am hyper-independent when it comes to business. I started my career in private practice as a family therapist, and then, for the past three-plus decades, as a speaker, consultant, workshop facilitator, and coach, I’ve been a solo business owner.

Over the years, I’ve tried partnerships, but inevitably I’ve not been able to let go of my fierce need for independence. I must do things my way.

While I proudly list self-sufficiency amongst my better character traits, my inability and unwillingness to include others has created a barrier to my success. Like all virtues, when independence exceeds its function, it becomes a liability.

Psychologists might suggest that my hyper-independence is a coping response from chronic trauma in my upbringing. Or maybe I feel so strongly in my purpose and mission that I have not had the confidence to allow someone into my space.

But there is only so far you can go alone. I’m truly discovering that in this next chapter of my life.

The irony is that I have spent much of my career helping people build high-trust partnerships and teams. Perhaps what we are most capable of building in others is what we are most in need of developing within ourselves.

Humanity is where it is today because we learned to collaborate. We can go fast alone, but together we can go further.
Relationships not only make our goals possible, they make them meaningful. Even if we get to the top of the mountain alone, who wants to be there with no one to share the experience?

Take a moment to stop and value your relationships – both at work and in your personal life. It’s the company that makes the journey worthwhile. Opening ourselves to connecting with and valuing people in our lives inevitably leads to opportunities to exchange ideas, receive inspiration, and deepen the meaning of our existence.

And this week I am thrilled to facilitate our Authentic Leadership Academy. Integral to the success of this experience is the meaningful connections and community we will build together.

Leadership Lessons From Nature

The late renowned Canadian artist and my good friend, Murray Phillips, used to spend a third of his time living in the woods and painting nature. He once said, “there are no straight lines in nature.”

Nature is perfect in its imperfection. It does not struggle against the whole universe by struggling against this moment. Its acceptance is total and complete.

We can learn a lot about ourselves when we take the time to commune with nature and witness the intelligence within every living thing.

When I sit silently and watch a sunset, or listen to the sound of the ocean or a stream, or hang out with the horses – when I take the time to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n to the speed of life, I recognize beauty everywhere and find myself surrounded by pure potentiality and unbounded creativity.

Murray gifted me a sketch pad and artist’s pen, and encouraged me to take time to draw something every day. Like a journal, I never show anyone my drawings. “Artists don’t necessarily produce ‘art.’ Murray used to say. Being an artist is, instead, the way you see the world. Being an artist is about having the eyes to see things more clearly. Artistic living means seeing life more slowly. It means seeing beyond the obvious.”

Leadership starts with connecting with ourselves. Appreciating our humanity and imperfection. Letting go of the expectation of straight lines, formulas and flavors of the month management fads. People want from their leaders what they want from themselves – to be real.

Depositing Into The Trust Account

I learned years ago from my mentor, Steve Covey, about the emotional bank account.

We all know what a financial bank account is. We make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor describing the amount of trust built up in a relationship. If we invest in a relationship, we are bound from time to time, either knowingly or unknowingly, to make withdrawals.

The key is to be sure that you always have something in the account to withdraw from. Always be sure your deposits are more than your withdrawals.

Here’s some example of deposits:

  • Courtesy and Kindness
  • Honoring your agreements
  • Showing appreciation and recognition (in ways that are meaningful to the recipient)
  • Apologizing
  • Humility, being open to learn from others
  • Truly listening, with empathy, for their concerns, their desires, and what matters to them
  • Taking responsibility for your actions
  • Taking people for coffee

Here’s some examples of making withdrawals:

  • Discourtesy and disrespect
  • Ignoring the people in your life and the mistakes you make in your relationships
  • A lack of openness to listen or to get feedback
  • Arrogance, being closed to learning
  • Being blind to the impact your actions are having on others or the mistakes you make
  • Abuse of power
  • Blaming, complaining, and gossiping
  • Taking people for granted

I’d love to hear about how you make deposits or withdrawals into the trust account in the relationships in your life.